Against the wind.. हवा के खिलाफ यहां तक...

 

Manisha Mashaal

manisha mashaalहवा के खिलाफ यहां तक...

मेरा नाम मनीषा मशाल है। मैं जमीनी स्तर की जाति-विरोधी कार्यकर्ता, वक्ता और गायक हूं और फिलहाल अखिल भारतीय दलित महिला अधिकार मंच के हरियाणा राज्य की संयोजक हूं। मैं हरियाणा के एक छोटे-से गांव से हूं। आज जहां मैं हूं, वहां पहुंचने के लिए एक दलित स्त्री होने के नाते मुझे बहुत सारी ऐसी मुश्किलों से जूझना पड़ा है, जिन्हें सामान्य स्थितियों में अलग से देखने की जरूरत नहीं समझती जाती। मेरे परिवार का जो अतीत रहा है, उसमें किसी तरह पढ़ाई-लिखाई करने वाली मैं पहली पीढ़ी की लड़की हूं। हालात चाहे जो रहे, लेकिन आज मेरे पास दो डिग्रियां हैं- कुरुक्षेत्र यूनिवर्सिटी से महिला अध्ययन (वीमेन स्टडीज) में स्नातकोत्तर और वहीं से जनसंचार में स्नातकोत्तर। और इसी अनुभव से मैं आपको यह बताना चाहती हूं कि #JusticeForRohith के लिए लड़ाई खत्म नहीं हुई है।

जिस दिन मैंने पहली बार रोहित वेमुला की आत्महत्या, उसकी वजहों और पृष्ठभूमि के बारे में सुना, तो मेरे अपने अतीत के संदर्भ मेरी आंखों के सामने नाचने लगे और तब रोहित के लिए मैं गहरे दुःख में चली गई। लेकिन इसके बाद मैं जितना ज्यादा उसके मेधावी और प्रभावशाली व्यक्ति होने के बारे में जानती गई, मेरा सदमा और गहरा हुआ। यह एक व्यक्ति नहीं, एक सपने, एक उम्मीद का जाना है। मुझे लगा कि अगर हैदराबाद यूनिवर्सिटी तक पहुंचने के रास्ते में जाने कितनी बाधाएं पार करने वाले और हिम्मती मानस वाले रोहित को आत्महत्या करनी पड़ गई तो निश्चित रूप से यह उसकी "कमजोरी" की वजह से नहीं हुआ, बल्कि उसे अमानवीयता के उस स्तर तक परेशान किया गया, जहां उसके पास लड़ने का कोई विकल्प शायद नहीं बचा था। मैं रोहित की कहानी जानती हूं, क्योंकि यह मेरी अपनी हो सकती थी। मैं भी वहां तक पहुंची हूं। मेरी पढ़ाई के दौरान कई ऐसे मोड़ आए जब मैंने वास्तव में सोचा कि ऐसे अपमानों को सहने से बेहतर है मर जाना। लेकिन मैं बची रही...!

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Building the Idea of India: Conserving Brahmanism and the Brahmanical State?

 

Pinak Banik

Pinak Banik(This is a three part essay dissecting the much celebrated 'idea of india' from an anti-caste perspective, attempting to lay bare the machinations of the Brahminical knowledge producers)

Many of us have recently come across a haphazard, yet systematic procession of essays, articles, reports, lectures, coverage, debates broadcast on electronic and print media, all of which tend to say that the idea of India - secular, socialist, tolerant, progressive, inquisitive etc., is in danger and must be saved at any cost. Some of the headlines in this context read as:

• "We need to save the idea of India: Nayantara Sahgal" (http://www.thehindu.com/)
• "Building the Idea of India | Irfan Habib" (http://awaam.net/)
• "Which India Will Endure, Tagore's or Golwalkar's?" (http://www.thecitizen.in/)
• "What The Biryani Says About 'The Idea Of India'" (http://www.huffingtonpost.in/)
• "Let us stand for what "Idea of India" means (http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/)
• "Dear India, don't be like us please: a friend from Pakistan"(http://www.catchnews.com/)

In response (from the instigators of such claims) we see a series of another set of haphazard but systematic acts of returning awards, resignations from state institutions, protests on streets and social media, shutting down of educational institutions, public meat-eating (beef) parties, talk shows, seminars, open letters, new t-shirts with secular messages, Bollywood figures becoming socially concerned etc. So, undoubtedly a lot of revolution is in the air.

This "growing" chorus of protests is explained based on a stated observation that there seems to be a tendency of "growing" intolerance in the recent past and it has intensified after the BJP government has taken charge. That, the Narendra Modi led BJP Govt. under the directions of the RSS, is 'attacking the secular and socialist values of India, distorting and saffronising the emancipatory Indian history, obstructing India's thirst for progressive sociological, cultural and scientific explorations and enquiries, vandalizing India's great humanist traditions, reducing India's democratic ethics into fascist instruments.' They lament that RSS through BJP, is trying to manipulate and rewrite India's history to maintain a narrative to justify their communal propaganda, and locate RSS in a favourable position in the history of freedom struggle, by appropriating and disqualifying the original heroes.

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The Confession: Experiencing JNU

 

Kshirod Nag

kshirod nagI joined JNU as an M.A. student of Sociology in the year 2008. I didn't have any idea about 'caste', 'class', 'gender' 'social change', 'revolution', 'Ambekarism', 'Marxism', 'Maoism' or any other 'ISM' for that matter, except Gandhism and Hinduism (as if in India, one has a birthright to know these two isms). I had come to JNU with a baggage of norms and values, ingrained in my mind and heart through the socialization process available in my surroundings. That was imposed on me with a particular standardized colour and flavour. During those times, I was proud of being a Hindu to malign 'others', especially the religious minorities. I was proud of doing it, precisely because, I had guts to do that. After all, I could defeat my 'enemies' with the endless weapons of my 36 crores deities. I was only and only a proud Hindu. After I came to JNU, I was desperately searching for a shelter here, which could conform to my norms and values and also could be protected and perpetuated. 'Fortunately', with the help of my best friend Sandeep Kumar Rao, I found a shelter under the umbrella of ABVP. I was very happy for getting it to share my aspirations of becoming a 'true nationalist'.

'Luckily', with 'God's grace' I was able to stay in Periyar in my friend's room and was introduced to many persons of my thought (I was allotted to stay in Narmada Hostel, but most of the time I would stay in Periyar). I was feeling excited for the kind of 'acceptance' I got from my seniors, namely Sameer Bhai (a born Muslim but Hindu practitioner), Manoj Kumar, Sakti Prasad Srichandan and many others. It was like a sense of pride, especially in the time of Durga puja, to be part of an organisation like ABVP. I was feeling more enthusiastic and 'inclusive' on the assignments being given by my seniors to be fulfilled, to make programs like Durga puja a huge success. After all, a strong Hindu devotee at heart and mind. We had a close peer group for fulfilling all these 'patriotic' activities. I used to maintain the Vivekanand version of brotherhood and reverence in front of my seniors. I used to feel a strong bondage of brotherhood along with other members. Some of my fellow brothers, who were also part of that same fraternity, include Pyarimohan Maharana, Chinmaya Maharana (now also they are close to my heart) and many others. I used to feel proud of collecting money (Durga puja Chanda) from door to door (I, along with my friend Sandeep Kumar Rao, was assigned to take care of Periyar hostel), arranging flowers and fruits to offer 'Devi Durga', and so on. Oh, how can I forget not being considered as 'pure' to sit nearby the 'Devi Durga' unless I took a bath. Therefore, I used to take bath everyday twice, once in the morning and again in the evening, to prove myself 'pure' like a 'Brahmin'. To prove myself more 'pure' even than a Brahmin, I was keeping 'half day fast' for whole six days during Durga puja. I was a 'complete' person, a true nationalist, both in theory (RSS) and practice (looking at Muslims as an enemy). I was immensely happy to get fraternal support from the organisation (ABVP) to actualize my notion of nationalism.

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Oh God! One shot…so many birds!!

 

P V Vijay Kumar

pvv vijay kumar3000 years back, one day a Brahmin said to himself, before he went to sleep "How do I protect my livelihood and retain all the luxuries I am enjoying today. I am scared...I don't want to rule dynasties and run a risk of dying in a war for enjoying my life. I have an option, to be wealthy, of doing a good business, but that is again another risky affair. My priest's job and my representative role of Gods is too good. I have to sustain this. But , can I retain this only for me ?......Naaa...people will alienate me!..I need to portray myself as altruist. I have an option to protect myself in a group. Let me talk to my co-priests and see what can I do..."

Can you imagine the kind of grotesque thoughts that would have come to the brahmin, which generalised his individual problem and turned it into a social phenomenon? Can you imagine how imaginative and cunning one should be to superimpose one's personal problems across  of society? Can one imagine that even "skin pigmentation", as a basis, can be used to drive the selfish agenda of a group?

Having taken this country through the path of painful polarizing politics for ages, the conscience of so many Brahminical forces in the country was pricked by Rohith's death. It has been seen, for decades, that there is a wide condemnation of attacks on Dalits in Keelvenmani, Karamchedu, Chunduru, Kanchikacherla etc. by brahminical forces, as it directly questions the feigned democratic nature of brahminism. But the fact remains, the liberal brahminists remain in utter silence about the kind of circumstances that forced Rohith's death, but choose to moan about the death alone, in isolation.

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Casteless-ness in the Name of Caste

 

Akhil Kang

There seems to be a lot of questioning in the sexuality discourses over how would one bring the ‘caste angle’ within its fold. Among the many dilemmas that our beloved queer folks seem to be grappling with is how do we ‘address the caste question’. The queer spaces in India are, let’s face it, trying too hard to be neutral. And I say this as “the caste person” (whatever that means). The objective of this neutrality is not just to attain swachh desire-controlling cis-gendered human being, but a casteless one. Let me admit, that being queer myself, I too have dilemmas in these ground-breaking progressive spaces; where almost everyone is perpetually caught up with the next cutting edge story to tell and exploring the provocativeness of queer! My first dilemma is that caste is not even acknowledged, let alone debated upon. The queer subject is a casteless one. My second dilemma is that even when the queer acknowledges their own caste, it is to make it caste-neutral.

pride1

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Understanding Caste & Casteism in Higher Education and Academic Institutions

 

Lata Pratibha Madhukar

Lata P MCaste is deep rooted in the Indian collective consciousness and subconsciousness, this article is based on my experiences, standpoint and understanding of caste and casteism in higher education, academic institutes and among educationists. It aims to give a rationale for the urgent introducing of Phule-Ambedkarite ideology and perception in the realm of education, based on anecdotal and factual evidences. Further, it attempts to explain the need to develop an understanding of the relevance of Phule-Ambedkar consciousness in different domains of knowledge production and for the creation of an egalitarian society that is protective and nurturing of all human beings and nature, and progresses towards wisdom.

 

Key words: Phule-Ambedkarite consciousness, education, casteism, discrimination

Caste bias among educationists

On 16th January 2016, I presented a paper at the Indian Institute of Education, Pune, titled "Absence of Phule-Ambedkarite consciousness in Higher Education and Academic Institutes". Local and national level educationists were present there, as I started talking about Jotirao Phule-Savitribai Phule, Shahu, Babasaheb and Periyar's contribution in education, some of them became restless. A senior educationist had this to say, "What is the contribution of Phule? He was just teaching in the school established by the British." I was surprised to hear such a version in a Gandhian institute, as this version is totally plotted and recounted by the RSS. Then, I responded by asking, if there was such an opportunity available for all to teach in British schools to Shudra, Atishudra and women, then why had no learned person from upper castes/Brahmin caste taken the opportunity to teach? Why did the contemporary reformists not open any schools for women, at least for their own community, between the period 1848 to 1900?

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Dalit Women Workers Fighting Modern Day Slavery

 

National Dalit Movement for Justice

 

A Fact Finding Report on the mass dismissal of Dalit sanitation workers in Delhi University, 7th Feb 2016

DU dalit women4

A brief account of the incident

On 26th December 2015, the provost of UG Women’s Hostel (Delhi University), Prof. Rita Kakkar (Dept. of Chemistry, Delhi University) informed seven Dalit women workers to discontinue their services from 1st January 2016. Before this mass dismissal three Dalit sanitation workers –Ravinder, Asha Devi and Rajesh were dismissed in the months of July, August and September 2015 respectively. The workers were informed orally without being given any reasons for their dismissal. The list of all the Dalit workers is as follows – 

Asha Devi, Mal Road, Jawahar Market, Delhi(Service: Three and a half years)

Putul Devi, Purana Chandrawal, Delhi

Kanta Devi, Valmiki Mandir, Jhaddoda Mazra, Delhi (Service: Three and a half years)

Pinky, G.T.B. Nagar, Delhi (Service: One year)

Manju, Gokulpuri, Delhi; (Service : Three and a half years)

Shanti, Valmiki Mandir, Jhaddoda Mazra, Delhi (Service:Three and a half years)

Bimlesh, Valmiki Mandir, Jhaddoda Mazra, Delhi (Service: Three and a half years)

Phula , Ambedkar Basti, Wazirabad, Delhi (Service: Three and a Half years)

Ravinder, G.T.B. Nagar, Delhi

Rajesh, Indira Vikas Colony, Delhi  

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Challenging Heterogeneity in Universities

Nidhin Shobhana 

nidhin 1This short essay aims to deconstruct and challenge the heterogeneity claims made by certain universities. Such a challenge is informed by Phule-Ambedkarite scholarships. It is not original. It is a reiteration of old, relevant facts. This essay is timely as we are increasingly witnessing hysteric and glorious accounts on nation and universities (across party lines). What seems to be missing (or deliberately pushed under the carpet) is the critique of Brahmin-Savarna supremacy on material and cultural resources everywhere, including universities.

Brahmin-Savarnas occupy Strategic posts

In JNU, teachers and students have come together to stage a united fight against organized Hindutva forces and militarization of the campus. As per one of the speakers, their fight aims at saving the soul of ‘India’ by defending its ‘universities’. One may agree or disagree with them. However, one cannot fail to notice the caste and class differences between the teachers and the students.

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Positive Ideology vs Negative Ideology

Hariram A

hariramIndia has seen the worst kind of subjugation of its own people in the name of caste since ages, the oppressors have been successful in their task of keeping the Bahujan Samaj (OBCs, SC, STs and RMs) under their control as they are very much committed to their cause of oppression and subjugation of Bahujan Samaj. Though their philosophy and ideology is negative, they could succeed only because of their positive leadership. Leadership is not about an individual or position it’s more about the leadership of the whole community who believes in its philosophy and ideology and who stand for it like a wall without any hesitation.

The ‘manuvadi’ philosophy could be injected into the minds and blood of people through their ‘Hindutva’ agenda successfully because every individual who believed in their agenda played an effective role, no individual is responsible for the success of their ideology and agenda, it was the collective effort of their breed, every manuvadi understood their purpose and glued on to their respective roles as a politician, intellectual, student, employee, writer, capitalist etc., and involved in the process of realising their agenda, hence, they are successful in their endeavour. They were able to market and sell even a negative ideology which propagates hatred, discrimination, communalism, casteism, gender bias, fanaticism and violence, their antecedents also prove their anti-national attitude but still they could succeed in fooling the people of this country with their fake nationalism by using all the available resources at their disposal.

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Flaunting noble intentions, nurturing caste privilege - Part 2

Asha Kowtal

asha savariIn August 2013, Kaafi, our sister from Jind Haryana was on her way to write her final exams and qualify to be a teacher. She was kidnapped, raped and murdered. Her dream to be a teacher and her aspirations to contribute to her family, her community and to this nation were shattered.

 

We did not have the ‘privilege’ to even mourn her loss as we continued to protest and demand for justice. She became a source of strength to the many young activists who are taking forward the caravan for annihilation of caste.

 

Today, as I sat amongst the crowds at Jantar Mantar, I remembered Kaafi and Rohith, both young Dalit students who lost their lives in tragic circumstances. To me, they will always remain stars who will be the guiding light in the anti-caste struggle. They are not mere icons, but a significant part of our history of resilience against the monster of caste. Our children will read about them as their ancestors who inspired the movement to keep growing and challenging the caste hegemony in this country.

 

But, today, I am once again gripped with fear.

 

Because our history is being distorted even before it is fully formed. Right before our eyes. Anti-caste slogans are being merged with or replaced with slogans for right to dissent, free speech and everything else! Rohith and scores of our young people are being projected as icons for some other larger (mysterious) cause. Our fight is against caste which Dr. Ambedkar termed as anti-national. How is it possible to create a discourse on nationalism when we are a people deeply divided on the basis of caste?

chalo delhi

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Rohith Act: An Ambedkarite Solution

 

 The Conscious Four

"The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people."Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy might be an espionage thriller writer, but then what he says above is just the protocol when it comes to the work of spy agencies or organizations wanting to control a populace. Our entire Indian history is testament to this, with a language such as Sanskrit being specifically constructed so that its learning is made the domain of Brahmins and this language then getting used as the norm as far as knowledge production goes. Knowledge production put in the hands of the Brahmins implied control of the minds of the populace in the hands of the Brahmins.

rohith blue

 

A minority such as Brahmins wanting to control an entire nation will hence want to dominate the knowledge producing centres at any cost. Hence the struggle to fight this hegemony in knowledge production does not plainly become an issue related to access of education (which is how the constitution may have framed it as a right), but is essentially an issue related to fighting one's own enslavement. You cannot as a people ever be considered free as long as it is 'the other' that creates the knowledge for you.

It is hence in this light that the series of academic suicides of the lower castes that have almost become a norm in institutions of higher learning are in essence similar to elimination of possible threats by a despotic government. The struggle against discrimination in these academic institutions should be seen as being no less than a struggle against enslavement. Therefore, in this regard, it should be recognized that there is an urgent need for the passing of laws which would ensure the democratization of these institutions in principle and not just on paper.

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Whose nation is it anyway?

 

Rahi Gaikwad

rahi gaikwad 1I remember a chapter in my class ten SSC (State Secondary Certificate) board textbook. It was an excerpt from Nehru's 'Discovery of India'. The passage spoke of Nehru's idea of India; it is perhaps among the best known lines of the book.

Nehru said, "All of us I suppose, have varying pictures of our native land and no two persons will think exactly alike. When I think of India, I think of many things: of broad fields dotted with innumerable small villages, of towns and cities I have visited; of the magic of the rainy season which pours life into the dry parched-up land and converts it suddenly into a glistening expanse of beauty and greenery, of great rivers and the flowing water; of the Khyber Pass in all its bleak surroundings; of the southern tip of India; of people, individually and in the mass; and above all, of the Himalayas, snow-capped, or some mountain valley in Kashmir in the spring, covered with new flowers, and with a brook bubbling and gurgling through it. We make and preserve the pictures of our choice, and so I have chosen this mountain background rather than the normal picture of a hot, sub-tropical country. Both pictured would be correct, for India stretches from the tropics right up to the temperate regions, from near the equator to the cold heart of Asia."

Every time I read this passage then as a student, I felt captivated by the beauty and intensity of Nehru's poetic imagery.

Not everyone can imagine his/her native land in this way. It takes the power of privilege to imagine a vast geography and speak on behalf of a deeply divided people; to be able to feel moved by the beauty of a flower or a brook and connect it to national pride.

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